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Note: This article goes out to my day one, home slice, “Fat Jesus”, and absolute best friend.
Thank you for (virtually) wiping every tear, celebrating every milestone, and making me die of
laughter every day. I will always cherish our friendship, and I can’t imagine life without you! I
love you!

One of the absolute highlights of my summer was being able to reunite in-person with my best
friend of 5 years, Lauren. We met when we joined our high school’s speech team, but in that
same year, she moved to Tennessee. I did not expect for our friendship to stand the distance
because we had not been friends for very long before she moved. Five years later, and I have
gone very few days without talking to her. So of course, after 4 years of not being able to
physically be by her side, there was no way I wasn’t going to see her this summer.

Long-term friendships, especially if they are long-distance, are a blessing, but they do not come
easily. Like a romantic relationship, they require effort and a great deal of communication.
However, if both parties are committed, they can be such a valuable gift. Here are 3 things that I
have learned in the five, sweet years of getting to know Lauren:

1. Build a Foundation on Honesty and Comfort

Honesty and comfort are two aspects of relationships that take time, so never try to rush them.
Both parties need to feel comfortable and want to be honest. You can’t force a person to be
comfortable or pull the truth out of them. It’s all about how you get to know your friend. Don’t
feel the need to be super deep with them right from the start cause that can be intense and
intimidating for some people. Start by telling stories, being genuine, and sharing things that are
going on in your life.

Soon enough you will build the trust to be able to express anything to your friend. Once you get
to this level of honesty, don’t hold back on your best friend. Always try to find a way to tell them
things that may be difficult to talk about. Nine times out of ten, they would like to hear it then
have no clue about what is going on at all. Ultimately, never forget that this foundation is an
ongoing process! Check in periodically on how your friendship is sizing up to these parameters
because it’s a lot harder to fix trust when it is no longer there.

2. Communicate, Communicate Again, and Communicate Often!

Just a couple weeks ago, Lauren expressed something to me that was going on between us that was hard for me to process, but I was glad that she told me otherwise. We talked about it until both of us felt good about the situation, and then moved on. Communication is key. This means expressing your ideas clearly and more importantly, listening to what that person has to say without interrupting them. No matter what the situation may be, make it known that you support them through active listening. It is important that you create a safe space for them to communicate by showing them that you are patient, understanding, and willing to spend time listening to them. This is another way that you both can continue to strengthen the foundation of honesty and comfort that your friendship should be built on.

3. “Besties For the Resties”

The greatest thing about long-term friendships is that you get to grow together. Lauren and I
have seen each other navigate many different life experiences. We’ve supported each other
through college, breakups, pursuing our career aspirations, and everything else life seems to
throw at us. Yes, we have both changed a lot since we met in 2016. And yet, she still brings me
so much joy and positive change into my life. Long-term friendships do not come easy, but if
you find your “Lauren” make sure you cherish every moment with that person and do what you
can to keep them in your life.

Oh, and if you were wondering about our reunion in Chicago this summer, it was a very sweet
moment. It only makes me more excited for the next time I get to see her in person. Until then, I
am sure she will keep spamming me with texts about all the cute boys she is meeting in Boston
or how adamant she is about wearing a yellow bridesmaid dress in my future wedding. Whatever
it is, I’m just glad to have her in my life. Besties for the resties, am I right?

Shanise Buford is a junior at Purdue studying Finance with a concentration in Data Analytics. Originally, she is from Plainfield, IL. In her free time, she enjoys thrift shopping, exploring new coffee shops, cooking for friends and family, and going for walks.
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